Vietnam’s Socialist Healthcare System

Vietnam is working on a universal health care system. The government says that this plan will cover all Vietnamese people, but will it be for the best. The National Health Security Office (NHSO) secretary-general Dr. Winai Swaasdivorn says that “Vietnam … Continued


Vietnam is working on a universal health care system. The government says that this plan will cover all Vietnamese people, but will it be for the best. The National Health Security Office (NHSO) secretary-general Dr. Winai Swaasdivorn says that “Vietnam is going to send officials to Thailand to study how the health-insurance systems are working,” in order to create a secure government-run health care system for Vietnam. The government is intently studying Thailand’s health care system to model theirs after it—Thailand’s health care system currently covers 48 million citizens.

The government plans to cover everyone under the system, however, not all conditions will be covered. Everyone must be covered under the government system, which means that there are those who will be vulnerable to the system because of pre-existing conditions, or a family history of extremely devastating medical conditions. Despite this, authorities have are convincing each other that the benefits outweigh the lack thereof.

Vietnam’s current health care law does not require all citizens to be covered, but the government is looking to change that. The population of Vietnam is about 88.57 million, of whom only 30% are forced into compulsory health care schemes while only 11% are in voluntary programs—voluntary health care programs are obviously more beneficial to the people. This new system in Vietnam would force all citizens to be covered under the universal health care system, even if some would rather be on a private plan with more benefits. Currently, those who don’t have health insurance are just left to fend for themselves while their life or death is no concern of anyone else.

The system the government has come up with is just a government-run health care system NOT a government-paid health care system. This means that each citizen is required to pay an annual fee for health care—a fee which exceeds the majority’s annual household income. Where will these families get the money if this health care system is mandatory? Chances are, they are going to be told not to be so “extravagant” so they can pay for their health care despite whatever vulnerable financial situation they may already be in.

Vietnam tried to create a successful health-insurance system in 1989 but fell short and are beginning to create a new system modeling Thailand’s recent success. In 2003, the Vietnam Social System (VSS) had taken over the health-insurance system from the Ministry of Health and established a Department of Health Insurance in 2005. They are now pushing harder for a successful health care system, hopefully to be completely established by 2014 with the Universal Coverage Citizens’ Health Insurance law. This recent push was in response to the Health Insurance Law that had taken effect on July 1, 2009.

Is this the best thing for Vietnam? Thanh Nhan Hospital vice director Chu Thi Du admits that her hospital has been operating at a huge loss each year. She tells the media that “Last year, the loss was 18 billion dong,” which is $92,355 American dollars. (1) This is in result to being unable to turn away patients who were not covered under any health insurance program. She also states in the same interview that it is because of this that “they have to seek help from the media in publishing their stories so that they can have some donations.” (1)

In a democracy, universal health care is debatable because economics and citizens’ sources of income are not determined by the government. In such a poor country with so many hands tied by the government preventing families to build their own wealth from such a difficult place—would government run health care be best?

(1) NationalMultimedia.com


  • viet

    Hey Vietnam, how about universal food program? Try to fix latent problem first before eyeing for the sky

    • Patrick Elliott-Brennan

      Universal health care IS a latent problem.

      There are clear studies which show that without adequate health care, the majority of a population are seriously restricted in their ability to improve their economic position.

      A country may have lots of money, but without adequate health care you can eat as much as you like and still suffer.

      I agree that if you can’t eat at all, this trumps health care. However they’re not mutually exclusive.

  • Patrick Elliott-Brennan

    I find your comment extremely weird.

    It would appear that you’ve written comments without checking out universal health care in the OECD (outside of the USA – which has a weird, strange and frankly backwards attitude towards health care for the masses).

    That you call it ‘socialist’ represents an US-centric view of the issue. For instance, if you were to call it that in Australia or New Zealand they’d immediately know you were from the US, or where some serious right wing loon (I’m not implying the latter, merely stating that this is how you’d be seen).

    Universal health care in the OECD is one of the most forward thinking projects undertaken. It has helped improve life expectancy and wellbeing by a massive margin. International economic studies show that when properly implemented (which includes restricting the power of the private, profit making sector), universal health care lowers the cost of care per capita.

    For example: 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Total_health_expenditure_per_capita,_US_Dollars_PPP.png

    AND

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0934556.html

    It is generally agreed by the majority of political parties in the majority of OECD member countries that universal health care, paid for by taxes, is a right of all citizens. 

    Australia is only one example where universal health care is considered a simple right for all and an acceptable burden on the tax system. 

    “In a democracy, universal health care is debatable because economics and citizens’ sources of income are not determined by the government”

    In summary, if by this you mean that there is a large movement against it or that it doesn’t fit within a democracy,  I’m afraid this that is something only ‘debated’ in the USA. A democracy has a responsibility  to support it’s members and ensure equity of access to services. This is something that the great majority of advanced economies and democracies agree upon.

    The USA is only playing catch up with the rest of the advanced economies.